What an incredible week long celebration of the third Eerie-On-Sea book. With the promise of 2 more books featuring Herbie and Vi, readers do not need to say goodbye just yet! There is much more to come and I, for one, cannot wait!
I am really pleased to share with you the next extract from Chapter 3: Mr Mummery! If you have missed any blogs this week, head back to check them out!
If you’ve been to the Grand Nautilus Hotel before, you’ll know all about my cubbyhole. It’s in the hotel lobby, across the polished marble floor from Reception. It’s a little arched opening in the wall, with a flip-up desk so that I can get in and out. The cubbyhole is the only part of the Lost-and-Foundery the guests ever see, so it probably doesn’t look like much. But if you’ve stayed here, and if you lost something while you did, you probably found yourself at my desk at least once, ringing the bell, waiting for yours truly to come and help. And I bet, if you did report something missing, there’s a good chance I found it for you, too. Because – whatever you may have heard old Mollusc face say – I’m actually quite good at my job.
I flip up the desk and flop down in my chair.
There is a folded piece of paper waiting for me, with a big H L for Herbert Lemon scrawled on it. A message? I open it up and read what’s there:
Herbie, come quick! It’s an emergency!! Lost-and-Foundering urgently required!!! Bring Clermit!!!!
I do a sigh. Not this again!
Violet – my very best friend in Eerie-on-Sea – has not had a good summer. She arrived last year in the depths of winter and promptly propelled me into two – two! – epic adventures that would make your niblets go knobbly if you heard about them. Adventures that left her expecting life in Eerie-on-Sea to be non-stop mystery and excitement for ever. But the long ice-cream months of May to September – with their tourists and deckchairs and sandy swimming trunks – have been a disappointment to Violet. She’s been itching to find another Eerie adventure for weeks now, and every note she sends claiming to have spotted one has more exclamation marks on it than the last.
But I’m not in the mood for this right now. I glance again at the door of the elevator and get a memory rush of the mysterious raven-haired woman’s intoxicating perfume. I’ll go to see Violet later.
My eye falls on a white pearlescent shell on a shelf nearby.
“Hello, Clermit,” I say to the shell as I lift it down and blow a few loose grains of sand from out of the brass-rimmed keyhole in its side.
It may seem funny that a shell should have a name (and a keyhole!), but this shell is special. Not only does it have some nifty clockwork inside, but, you see, I once made this shell a promise.
Clermit – which is short for “clockwork hermit crab” – is one of the lost things in my Lost-and-Foundery. I need to take care of him until I can find his rightful owner. I’ve been carefully cleaning him over the summer, but I can’t quite bring myself to wind his winder-upper just yet. Last time I did, it led to one of those epic adventures I mentioned.
Violet has been begging me to wind Clermit again for months.
I pick up a fine screwdriver and carefully coax out a few more grains of sand from inside the clockwork hermit crab’s fabulously complicated mechanism. I can’t help
wondering what the woman with the raven hair would say if she came along and saw me fixing such a beautiful and complicated little gadget…
I put Clermit down and sigh.
I don’t seem to be able to concentrate on anything today.
I look at the bell on my desk.
I find myself fantasizing that the raven-haired woman is about to ring it and ask for my help. I’d like that. And I’d jump straight to it, too, and be amazing, and help her out, and Mr Mollusc would grind his teeth because she would smile and say, for all to hear, “Oh, Herbie, you are the greatest Lost-and-Founder I have ever met,” and, “This year will be different, Herbie, I promise you that,” and I like this daydream so much that I can almost see her slender hand reaching out and ringing my bell with a bright and cheery…
My bell rings sharply, and I slide off my elbow, blinking at it in surprise.
There is indeed a hand there, but it’s far from slender.
TING! goes the bell again as a podgy red finger hits the ting-er once more with a short, bad-tempered poke.
“Are you open?” says a voice. “It says on the sign that you are open.”
I look up. Instead of the mysterious raven-haired woman, the stout man with the homburg hat is glaring at me. It’s such a shock to see him there that my cap slips over my eyes.
“This year will be different!” I blurt out before I can stop myself. I push the cap back onto my head. “I mean, yes, I’m open. Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder, at your service.”
“Hmm,” says the man. “Not much to look at, are you?”
I’m not quite sure how to answer that, so instead I take a moment to do a bit of looking of my own. The man is even more red-faced than I realized, and he wears a dark-grey
suit that stretches across his belly thanks only to three waistcoat buttons under enormous strain. He looks nothing like an actor in town to put on a show. He looks more like a banker, here to close down the show and throw everyone out for not paying rent.
“I try my best,” I say eventually. “I could stand up, if that would help.”
“It would,” says the man briskly. “I have been sent to summon you. I…”
But before he can say more, Mr Mollusc slides into view beside him.
“Excuse me, sir, but is the boy bothering you?” says the hotel manager.
“No, not yet,” the man in the hat replies.
“Are you sure?” Mollusc is clearly disappointed. “He’s good at hiding it.”
“Yes, he seems the type.” The man narrows his eyes at me as if his worst suspicions have just been confirmed. Then he turns. “And you are?”
“Mr Mollusc. I run this hotel.”
“Ah,” puffs the man in the hat, brightening a little. “And I am Mr Mummery, theatrical agent. How do you do, Mr Mollusc?”
“And how do you do, Mr Mummery,” replies the manager, and Mollusc and Mummery shake hands and nod at each other, and I have a bad feeling that I’m watching the birth of a horrible double act. Sure enough, once the greeting is over, the two men turn and fix me with exactly the same expression of doubt and disdain.
“Um,” I say, because I think it’s about time I said something. I raise an eyebrow at Mr Mummery. “Did you say I was being summoned?”
“Indeed,” Mummery replies. “Against my better judgement, I must say. You are to come with me to the sixth floor, Herbert Lemon, to Lady Kraken’s private rooms. It is time for your interview. Everybody is waiting.”
“Interview?” I can feel the cap slipping over my eyes again. “But… how…? What…?”
“There’s no need to look so alarmed,” says Mr Mummery. “I’m sure you’ve prepared thoroughly. Now, come along.”
“Is the boy…?” Mr Mollusc gasps, a look of desperate hope in his face. “Is the boy in some kind of trouble?”
“That –” Mr Mummery glances down his stubby red nose at me – “remains to be seen.”
And with this he sets off at a brisk walk towards the great brass elevator of the Grand Nautilus Hotel, clearly expecting me to follow.
And what else can I do?
Under the gaze of a triumphant Mr Mollusc, I scuttle after him.
Malamander, Gargantis and Shadowghast are all published by Walker Books and available from your favourite book seller!